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French police fatally shoot armed suspect 'planning to set synagogue on fire' in Rouen, cops courage lauded

The French police fatally shot an armed suspect in the Normandy city of Rouen early Friday, who seemed to be intending to set fire to a synagogue, according to the Interior Ministry.

BREAKING French police fatally shoot a man suspected of planning to set fire to a synagogue in Rouen snt
First Published May 17, 2024, 12:26 PM IST

French police in Rouen fatally shot an armed man who appeared to be planning to set fire to the city's synagogue, confirmed Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and local officials on Friday.

The incident unfolded in central Rouen, located 130 kilometers (80.78 miles) northwest of Paris, in the early hours of Friday morning, as detailed by Darmanin in a post on the social network X.

The attacker's identity and motive remained unclear. However, local authorities reported that he was armed with a knife and iron bar.

“In Rouen, national police officers neutralized early this morning an armed individual clearly wanting to set fire to the city’s synagogue. I congratulate them for their reactivity and their courage,” he said.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that the suspect was shot and killed but did not provide further immediate details.

Tensions and anger have escalated in France amid the Israel-Hamas war, leading to a surge in antisemitic acts in the country. France, which boasts the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in western Europe, is grappling with heightened tensions stemming from the conflict.

In two months, France will host the Olympic Summer Games 2024 amidst heightened security concerns, recently elevating its alert status to the highest level against a complex geopolitical backdrop spanning the Middle East and Europe's eastern flank.

Elie Korchia, president of France's Consistoire Central Jewish worshippers body, expressed gratitude, stating that police intervention "avoided another anti-Semitic tragedy."

According to regional broadcaster France 3, firefighters were present at the site, and a Rouen city hall official confirmed that the fire had been brought under control.

Rouen's mayor expressed the town's profound distress, stating that Rouen was "battered and shocked."

The city, which in 2016 endured an attack later claimed by the Islamic State, was deeply affected. The incident occurred when a priest was fatally attacked with a knife during a service in the town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, located in the southern part of Rouen's urban agglomeration.

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